Blah Blah Blahg

A little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of blah blah blah....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Have to Kiss a lot of Toads Before You Find Your Kermit

A Valentine's Day Tribute to the Love of My Childhood

Ah, February 14th. A day of true Hallmark style consumerism. A day to eat too much chocolate. A day to wear red and pink together and not feel like a walking fashion disaster.
For some, it is a day to celebrate romance. For some, it is a day to collect copious amounts of carefully crafted paper creations and candy hearts that taste like chalk. For some, today is perhaps more appropriately referred to as Singles Awareness Day. For some, it's a reminder in the middle of bleak February to tell those you care about they are loved.
For me, this year, it is a day to reflect on one of my first childhood loves, Kermit the Frog. You see, last night, my beloved and be-flippered friend got all decked out in his new hand-knit bow tie and the two of us, along with a human friend of mine set out to the cinema to catch a showing of The Muppets movie. This special showing of the movie I thought I wouldn't see until it arrives in my mailbox next month (yes, I pre-ordered the DVD combo set like a true, die-hard Muppets fan), was hosted by a wonderful quaint, local theater and a group of dedicated parents and educators to support an equally wonderful local school.
Kermit popped out of my purse before the show and took a moment to greet some of the children in the audience before taking his seat comfortably on my lap. A little boy in the seat next to mine was quite enjoying an opportunity to meet the film's star in amphibian. I told him I'd received Kermit when I was just 8 years old. He asked how old Kermit was, and I told him he'd just celebrated his 18th birthday in December of last year.

"That's impossible. If you got him when you were 8, he must be at least about 100!"

I will refrain from taking that as a comment on my own age or appearance, and, instead tell you all how it was that Kermit the Frog and I became BFFs back on December 8th of 1993.

Let's back up a bit, actually. To the early days of November of that same year. Location: Macy's children's department in Colonie Center Mall, Albany, NY. The B. family is partaking in one of childhood's most loathed rituals: shopping for clothes. That is when it began. Yours truly spots a round table draped in a red tablecloth, piled high and deep with plush Muppets. And there, right in the middle of the pile, were a select few Kermit the Frogs. I wanted one. I wanted him NOW. No, I couldn't wait until next month when Chanukah and my birthday were coming! No, I did not have enough toys already!! No, I would not just inevitably forget about one more and leave him sitting in the pile of not-played-with and frequently not-cleaned-up toys in my playroom!!!
*lip quiver, lip quiver, tear-filling eyes about to overflow* And, bring on the tantrum. Not just a small bout of tears, no. Not even just a few moments of docile whining. No, this was a full fledged epic Michelle B. style temper tantrum that even Michelle B. herself can no longer recreate--right there in Macy's children's department. I don't remember how my parents reacted, though I can imagine we all did the B. Family Walk of Shame out of that mall and I do know there was no frog in tow.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks preceding the month of December. I did it! I found the ridiculously giant bag o'gifts all eloquently wrapped in Chanukah paper. And I not-so-eloquently tore a tiny hole in each of the 8 wrapped gifts, just to, you know, make sure I was getting Kermit. Untrue to their department-store-prediction, I have not forgotten about that frog. (By the way, please do not tell my mommy I tore a hole in all of those presents, I don't think she knows and I really don't wanna get in trouble!) And the worst possible fate is realized. There is one small, soft bodied Kermit with a plastic head, but not the Kermit, not my Kermit. Now, all there is left to do is wait with the guilt of what I've just done for the weeks to pass until Chanukah comes.
And, somehow, those weeks did pass. It was the first night of Chanukah, December 8, 1993. We each lit the first candles in our menorahs, made the blessings, and gathered together to exchange gifts. Of course, I was handed that infamous box with its infamous peep hole in that infamous dreidel decorated wrapping paper. With as much grace as a disappointed and guilt-laden 8-year-old can muster, I accepted the gift, expressing levels of gratitude so immense that if the tears in my eyes didn't give away my regret, my overcompensating professions of love and thanks must have.
However, my mother and father let this go on for a while, (in a classic rendition of what my sister and I now refer to as "The Trick"), explaining all of the reasons this was all I was getting. Money was tight. The store ran out of Kermits. There was no time. You name it, it was mentioned, all increasing my feelings of remorse and shame not only for my dastardly department store display, but also for my little Peeping Tom session in the laundry room closet a few weeks back. It was horrible and the pain must have been palpable because at some point my mother turned to my father and said, "Can you just go get that one more thing from the closet?"
He returned with a green gift back with a picture of a frog on it, and that's when it happened. That's when I was at last united with the plush, perfectly green, pose-able Kermit the Frog of my dreams that I had so badly wanted and so not deserved.
That year, Kermit came with me every day to school (except one day when I forgot him at home and cried all through Show & Tell time). He came to every piano recital for the next five years. He attended every family celebration and every family vacation. He had appropriate outfits for all of these occasions. He went to summer camp, to the doctor, to friends' houses and to synagogue. (He even had a handmade felt yarmulke for that.) He moved with my family to Massachusetts and with me to Idaho and then Washington. He's not so pose-able anymore. He's had a few minor surgeries, and a few minor accidents including a dog attack. But he is still my number one choice of movie date (sorry to the human friend) when it comes to seeing the Muppets in theaters.
As we left the theater last night, me with a Muppet-like grin on my face from the excitement of it all, I remarked to my human friend how surprised I was that with this movie there had not been an influx of Muppet toys, clothes and paraphernalia in stores. She suggests that perhaps it is because of the Michelle B. Macy's Children's Department Tantrum of 1993...what do you think?